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Pursued by the Playboy: Doctors of Rittenhouse Square, #1

Pursued by the Playboy: Doctors of Rittenhouse Square, #1

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Pursued by the Playboy: Doctors of Rittenhouse Square, #1

valutazioni:
4.5/5 (3 valutazioni)
Lunghezza:
232 pagine
3 ore
Editore:
Pubblicato:
Jun 28, 2016
ISBN:
9781533750815
Formato:
Libro

Descrizione

A bachelor who's finally looking to settle down meets a career-driven woman who doesn't believe in love...

Kate Warner isn't interested in romance. After years of bearing silent witness to the disaster zone of her parents' marriage, the last thing Kate wants is a husband and kids.  Besides, she's on the fast track to academic success at an Ivy League university.

Enter Dr. Marc DiStefano, star of the university hospital's department of gynecology.  Tired of the Barbie-doll wanna-be's of his past, he's looking to settle down. And he's set his sights on Kate. 

...That's when the problems begin.

Editore:
Pubblicato:
Jun 28, 2016
ISBN:
9781533750815
Formato:
Libro

Informazioni sull'autore

Jill Blake loves chocolate, leisurely walks where she doesn't break a sweat, and books with a guaranteed happy ending. A native of Philadelphia, Jill now lives in southern California with her husband and three children. During the day, she works as a physician in a busy medical practice. At night, she pens steamy romances.

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Anteprima del libro

Pursued by the Playboy - Jill Blake

Pursued by the Playboy

(Doctors of Rittenhouse Square, Book 1)

––––––––

by

Jill Blake

Table of Contents

Pursued by the Playboy

Note from the Author

About the Author

Copyright

Chapter 1

Kate Warner tugged up the low-cut bodice of her black gown. In a closet full of functional clothes, it was the only item that fit tonight’s dress code. If only she didn’t feel so exposed wearing it. She glanced around at the clusters of guests in evening couture. Jewels that cost more than her annual salary winked beneath the chandeliers of Philadelphia’s Four Seasons ballroom. Her own neck and hands felt conspicuously bare.

Stop fidgeting, Jake murmured at her side. You look fine.

She sighed. Right. This from the man who wears cowboy boots for every occasion.

Don’t get snippy, he said. They’re Luchesse Classics. Hand-tooled leather, custom made.

Of course. She glanced down. The boots were black and polished to a high sheen. But here, at a fundraising gala for ovarian cancer research, thirty-plus miles from the nearest horse ranch, they were as out of place as Kate herself.

He flashed a grin. Come on, let’s find our table. Looks like the festivities are about to begin.

Kate’s palms started sweating again, the satin clutch in one hand nearly slipping as she followed Jake through the crowd. She’d rather spend Saturday night getting a Brazilian wax. Or filling out budget justification forms in triplicate. But as one of tonight’s honorees, she didn’t have the option of not showing.

It could have been worse. Instead of Jake at her side, she could have braved the crowd alone. A faint shudder rippled through her.

Or she could have attempted to mediate a cease-fire between her parents earlier that evening. But the likelihood of such a truce breaking down midway through dinner had her phoning Jake in a panic. By the time he pulled up to the curb where she was waiting, her stomach burned from the three ibuprofen she had dug up from her overnight bag and swallowed dry.

Thanks for rescuing me, she said now, as they took their seats. I could’ve called a taxi, but...

No worries. Besides, I love rubbery chicken and overcooked peas. I hear that’s what they’re serving tonight.

Seriously, Jake, I appreciate it.

Enough to foot dinner for two at Vetri?

She draped her silk shawl over the back of her chair. "I don’t do haute cuisine."

Not you. Jennifer. I bailed tonight, told her it was a family emergency.

Oh, no—I’m so sorry, you should have told me. I wouldn’t have asked you to come if I’d known. She hesitated. So is it serious?

You know me, I don’t do serious. Besides, I’ll make it up to her later. He wagged his brows, Groucho Marx style. "And it’s not like I lied. You are family. My parents still hope we’ll get together someday."

She rolled her eyes. "Please, they’d disown you if you ever brought home a shiksa."

"Not if that shiksa were you. He paused. When she didn’t respond, he sighed and changed the subject. So, what set off the fireworks tonight?"

Between her father’s slap-dash attitude toward fidelity and her mother’s rages, anything could have triggered a fight. Kate had lost count of the nights she’d spent during adolescence with the covers pulled over her head, praying her parents would finally divorce. The only lull in hostilities occurred when her father was away on business. If he was gone too long, though, Kate’s mother would focus her rage on whatever came within striking distance.

Kate learned early to keep quiet and out of sight, the better to avoid her mother’s temper. Through hard work, luck, and the mentoring of several sympathetic teachers along the way, she managed to escape to university at sixteen. That her parents were together years later and still locked in acrimonious battle was something she no longer even tried to understand.

Tonight she had hoped would be different. That at least for a few hours they could be civil to one another, just long enough to witness their only daughter receive an award as Top Junior Researcher of the Year, along with the hefty check that would fund her lab work for another three years.

Kate?

She picked up her cream linen napkin and adjusted it on her lap. They were supposed to meet me at the train station this afternoon. She fiddled with the silverware beside her plate. No one was there, of course. I walked. It’s not far—half a mile, maybe. They didn’t hear me come in. I waited to see if things would die down, but... She shrugged. I changed, called you, and left them a note.

Jake’s hand covered hers, stilling her fingers. He knew all about her parents’ dysfunctional relationship, had tried to protect her from it. Instead of returning home between semesters during college and grad school, she had tagged along with Jake to the rambling farmhouse in Montgomery County where his mother would envelop her in a lavender-scented hug and ply her matzoh ball soup. Jake’s father, a soft-spoken professor whose books on Cold War diplomacy informed and molded an entire generation, treated her like a favored student. They’d sip tea and debate politics late into the night, solving the world’s problems around the kitchen table.

She missed those discussions. Even before Jake’s parents had retired to Boca Raton, Kate’s visits had grown infrequent. Her time got eaten up by graduation, a post-doc that had taken her to the opposite coast, and finally a tenure-track position with endless hours doing bench-work, writing up results, supervising students. She wondered sometimes how she’d allowed her world to get so narrow.

Jake cleared his throat. You okay?

The screech of a microphone from the podium interrupted. Kate shook her head and turned to the front of the room, where the evening’s host began his introduction.

As the speeches wound down, Marc DiStefano shifted in his chair and glanced at his watch. The one night he wouldn’t have minded getting called in to the hospital, his phone was silent. Without work as an excuse, he couldn’t very well walk out. His family had supported tonight’s cause for too many years. Besides, he’d already noted a few familiar faces in the crowd: fellow physicians—including the chief of his own department of gynecologic oncology—who would certainly remark on his leaving early.

He sighed. Across the table, his sister Emma frowned at him. Her husband gave Marc a sympathetic look. The audience began applauding, and belatedly Marc joined in. As the noise died down, he glanced toward the podium and stilled.

A woman stood at the microphone, her face framed by wisps of chestnut hair. Her mouth was just a little too wide for her face, her jaw a bit too blunt. But the rest of her was perfect: high breasts, curvy hips, and legs that went on forever.

Marc glanced down at the program, skimming to the end:

Katherine Warner. Recipient of this year’s Ovarian Cancer Research Foundation Award for Top Junior Researcher. Dr. Warner received her PhD in Cell & Molecular Biology from the University of Pennsylvania, where she is currently the youngest faculty member in the CMB Department. Her work focuses on identifying novel biomarkers for the screening and early detection of ovarian cancer.

Her husky voice washed over him. "This year in the United States, twenty-two thousand women will be diagnosed with ovarian cancer. Fourteen thousand will die. Despite the fact that ovarian cancer accounts for only three percent of cancers among women, it causes more deaths than any other cancer of the female reproductive tract. Why? Because there is no screening for ovarian cancer. By the time most women get diagnosed, malignant cells have already spread beyond the ovary. The five-year survival rate for advanced ovarian cancer is less than forty-five percent. Compare that to ninety percent survival for women who get diagnosed early."

Marc glanced around at the rapt audience.

Ladies and gentlemen, this needs to change. We need to find a way to screen for ovarian cancer, so we can diagnose it early and treat it before it spreads. Thanks to the Foundation’s generous support, we can continue to work toward this critical goal.

Applause brought his attention to the front of the room again, in time to see Katherine Warner’s delectable backside retreating from view. He shot up, ignoring the napkin that dropped from his lap to the floor, and his family’s surprise at his abrupt departure from the table.

He was tall enough that he could see above most of the crowd to where she stood, surrounded now by well-wishers. Her shoulders appeared tense, the cords standing out in her neck when she turned her head, gaze sweeping around as if looking for an exit. For a moment those eyes rested on him, and he felt as if he were drowning in a blue so dark it was almost black. His lungs seized. Then a thick fringe of lashes swept down and he was able to breathe again.

In the background he vaguely heard the sound of chairs scraping, glassware clinking, an orchestra tuning up. He cut through the people separating them and stopped directly in front of her. She was smaller than she had appeared on the podium, the top of her head barely reaching his shoulder.

Congratulations, Professor. He captured her hand mid-gesture. Her fingers fluttered against his, and a jolt of sensation shot up his arm. Marc DiStefano. I work at Penn, too.

Really. She tugged her hand from his. Which department?

Gyn onc. At the hospital, he clarified. So what you discover, I’ll hopefully implement.

Her smile was cool. Nice meeting you, Dr. DiStefano.

Marc, please. Otherwise it gets confusing. Too many of us answer to the same name. He glanced toward the other end of the ballroom, where couples were beginning to sway to the music. Would you like to dance?

Thank you, but I don’t—

Just one dance, Professor. His fingers brushed her arm, and she shivered. It’ll give me a chance to pick your brain.

The brief flash of teeth biting her lip made him want to run his thumb—or better yet, his tongue—over that bottom lip. Before he could do anything rash that would embarrass them both, she gave an abrupt nod. Clearly the appeal to her intellect had done the trick. Excuse me, she murmured to the other guests who still stood in a semi-circle around her.

Marc cupped her elbow and led her toward the space that had been cleared for dancing. They came together like pieces of a puzzle: her soft fingers enfolded in his firm grip, her silk-clad breasts grazing his chest, her legs brushing against his. Her scent filled his nostrils, a delicate blend of citrus and jasmine and something else, something uniquely her—soft and clean and alluring. He felt his body responding, and wished he could whisk her away to someplace more private, where he could lose himself completely in her embrace.

The orchestra segued into another tune and she cleared her throat. You wanted to ask me something.

His fingers skimmed lightly over her waist to rest at the base of her spine, just above the swell of her bottom. Ah, Professor...

You can call me Kate.

He dipped his head and breathed her in. Kate. Bonny Kate, the prettiest Kate in Christendom...

Her lips quirked. And Kate the curst. I know, I know. The shrew comes out at midnight.

He laughed. Is that an invitation?

No, thank you, Petruchio.

His cell phone vibrated, interrupting his response. In a few quick steps he twirled them toward the edge of the dance floor. One arm still wrapped around her, he fished the device out from an inner pocket and checked the text message. Then he swore softly and let her go. Sorry, I need to get this. It’s the SICU, and I’m on call. Don’t disappear.

Actually, she nodded toward a nearby table, where a tall dark-haired man half-waved in her direction. I need to get back.

Marc paused in the process of punching in the callback number. You’re together?

She hesitated, and in that moment Marc took an instant dislike to the other man. Yes. She turned and offered Marc a parting smile that made his gut clench and his palms sweat. Pleasure meeting you.

He followed her with his eyes, even as his call connected and he spoke with the critical care nurse at the other end.

When he got back to his table to excuse himself, his sister Emma grinned. What happened?

Isabelle, his other sister, joined in. Not like you to retreat in the face of a little competition.

He glanced involuntarily toward the table where Kate’s escort had gotten up and was now draping a silk wrap across her shoulders. Sorry to disappoint, but I was called in. Fever and dehisced wound on one of my post-ops, and the resident is— He broke off, sighed. It’s July, you know how it is.

His siblings winced and made sympathetic noises. July first marked the official start of the academic year, when medical interns and residents began their clinical rotations: a fresh batch of inexperienced doctors-in-training let loose on the hospital floors.

Marc’s stepmother, Sophia, half smiled. As the only nurse in a family of doctors, she was used to deflating overblown egos when the occasion demanded. Wasn’t too long ago you were in their shoes, hot-shot.

Joseph DiStefano patted his wife’s hand and winked at his son. Four years and counting, he said. But from the residents’ perspective, it might as well be a lifetime. You forget that training years are like dog-years: easily seven-to-one.

Marc grinned and took his leave, the sound of his sisters’ laughter echoing in his wake.

Outside, as he waited for the valet to bring his car around, he caught sight of Kate stepping into a low-slung Porsche. Her companion closed the passenger door behind her and circled around to the driver’s side, boot heels ringing on the pavement. Just before folding himself in behind the wheel, he removed his black Stetson and tossed it into the car, presumably onto Kate’s lap.

Chapter 2

Three days later, Marc knocked on the door of Kate’s lab, and without waiting for a response, walked in.

Kate stood at one of the counters that ran down the center and along the periphery of the room, her slim form hunched over an electrophoresis unit. In one gloved hand she held a pipette, with which she was transferring samples into the tiny wells of a prepared gel. A shapeless lab coat covered her from neck to mid-thigh, but left her legs bare, and it was there that Marc’s gaze focused and remained riveted.

Can I help you? A young man in jeans and a white coat looked up from his perch at another counter.

Marc tore his eyes from Kate. He hadn’t even noticed the other man until then. Thanks, but I’m here to see Professor Warner.

She glanced over her shoulder, frowned. Dr. DiStefano?

Hello, Kate. I was in the neighborhood. Thought I’d stop by and see where you work.

Her gaze flicked to her student and back. I’m setting up an assay. If you want, Mahesh can show you around. There’s not much to see.

Marc shook his head. Subtlety was clearly lost on her. Actually, the tour can wait. How about some coffee?

She carefully set down the pipette and stripped off her gloves. Thank you, but—

Mahesh interrupted. I can finish up here. You’ve already loaded the gel. I’ll just babysit it for a couple hours. Take as long as you want. You skipped lunch today, you need to eat.

Marc grinned. Thank goodness for eager-to-please grad students. Come on, Kate, I’ll feed you.

She hesitated, then started unbuttoning her lab coat, revealing a thin white V-neck T-shirt and loosely belted khaki shorts. Fine. Thanks, Mahesh. Let me just grab my bag.

Marc kept a hand on her elbow as they navigated through the basement corridor, up the stairs, and out into the sunlight. She fumbled in her purse for sunglasses and slipped them on. Where are we going?

White Dog Café? The local favorite was a short walk across campus, and unlikely to be busy this late in the afternoon.

She fell into step beside him. Didn’t think I’d see you again.

He skimmed her profile, admiring the delicately curved ear, the graceful neck, the tempting handful of her breasts. We didn’t get a chance to talk the other night.

They walked silently for a few minutes, past the hospital complex and beneath the glass-enclosed overhead walkway to the Tower Hotel. Marc wondered what was going on behind her cool demeanor. Had she even given him a second thought after

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